Leveraging Minimal Group Paradigm to Increase the quality of Product Design

Minimal Group Paradigm is the

The minimal group paradigm is a methodology employed in social psychology.[1]Although it may be used for a variety of purposes, it is most well known as a method for investigating the minimal conditions required for discrimination to occur between groups. Experiments using this approach have revealed that even arbitrary and virtually meaningless distinctions between groups, such as preferences for certain paintings[2] or the color of their shirts,[3] can trigger a tendency to favor one’s own group at the expense of others.”

Basically, it’s a way to get people to like each other for a random reason such as they wear the same color shirt.

How can product design implement this tool?

  • Copy Apple’s iMessage

Micah Stone writes a great piece on how Apple iMessage does this.

iMessage has taken this concept and subtly tweaked it in order to make it even more powerful. Text messaging and iMessage are all folded into the Messaging app, and both function almost identically from a user perspective: I select a name, I type my message, I press send, and the other person receives my message.

The user experience could not be more different. Text messaging seems very flat and boring; while iMessage incorporates all of the same features that made BBM seem fluent and conversational. Although they are both the same speed, texting feels closer to email, while iMessage feels closer to instant messaging.

The design is structured in order to exploit the Minimal Group Paradigm as well. The iMessages appear with a soft, blue color which matches the color theme of the rest of the Apple apps. Text messages are a bright green color which is more difficult to read, and seems out-of-place with the other colors. It seems strange, but this small discrepancy can make a big difference even if it is subconscious.

The blue iMessage color matches the rest of the UI and makes as feel closer to other iPhone users; it makes us feel part of the group, and makes us have a small negative feeling towards those outside the group. (The same way BBMing did with Blackberries)

if you’re an iPhone user, is it true: Are you faster to respond to the blue text messages or the green ones?


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